BOISE, Idaho — Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter has proclaimed the week of March 18-22 Flood Awareness Week in Idaho. Many local, state, and Federal agencies contribute to warning citizens about flood hazards and helping them recover from flooding. From warning through response, these agencies depend on vital science information from the U.S. Geological Survey.
The USGS maintains a nationwide network of streamgauges that provide real-time information about river levels and flows. Idaho is home to more than 200 such gauges. The National Weather Service uses streamgauge information to forecast floods and issue warnings.
"USGS streamgauges provide absolutely critical information to National Weather Service hydrologists responsible for issuing river flood warnings," said Bob Diaz, Meteorologist in Charge of the National Weather Service Weather Forecast office in Boise. "The USGS is a valuable partner and a key part of the National Weather Service Flood Warning Program."
To supplement this network of streamgauges, the USGS can rapidly deploy portable gauges on bridges or other structures to provide additional information about rising floodwaters. The USGS Idaho Water Science Center installed three of these rapid deployment gauges along the Boise River during flooding in May 2012.
"We requested the rapid deployment gauge at the Highway 95 bridge near Parma in conjunction with the state water master," said Brian Sauer of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. "The bridge does not have a lot of clearance during high flows. I think the data from the site was monitored closely by a variety of entities. We’d likely consider it again under similar circumstances."
All of the information provided by USGS is publicly available through its National Water Information System website.
Citizens and emergency responders can also obtain USGS alerts that deliver river flow and level information directly to a mobile device. USGS WaterAlert sends e-mail or text alerts when conditions at a gauge meet or exceed user-selected thresholds. USGS WaterNow lets users query a gauge from their phone to receive a text message containing current conditions.
To learn how to use USGS WaterAlert, visit USGS WaterAlert.
To learn how to use USGS WaterNow, visit USGS WaterNow.